Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Rush baskets

A Wednesday afternoon with a difference:  Mandy Coates' rush basket workshop, postponed from an evening earlier in the year.  As usual, Mandy gave excellent tuition:  using rushes gathered from the waterways of Bedfordshire and with a baked bean tin as a template, we all came away with a little basket (although not all of us have quite finished the handle!).
Many thanks to Mandy, and to JM for the delicious flapjacks and shortbread.

Busy weaving

The raw materials, wrapped in a damp cloth to keep them flexible.


Heritage spinning wheels with Val and David Bryant

Thank you very much indeed to the Bryants who gave us a fascinating illustrated talk on the history of spinning wheels last Saturday.  David Bryant makes furniture & spinning wheels, and restores vintage/antique wheels; he and Val are experts in the field having spent many years researching the subject in depth.  Val worked for many years at Styal Mill (Cheshire) and family holidays were spent quartering the country in search of historic spinning wheels.  Eventually, with the aid of a Pasold research grant, she was able to give up the day job and she and David now have a substantial database of information about wheels in the UK.  These range from humble cottage wheels to exquisitely made "boudoir" wheels for ladies (who probably didn't do much actual spinning, but liked to show off their handiwork and spinning wheels to envious friends). 
Val and David are now sought after by museums for advice about restoration and display, and have worked with the Jane Austen House (and also, see here ), the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Royal Collection.
In addition to many excellent "slides" (or whatever the digital equivalent is) they brought two beautiful antique flax spinning wheels, and Val (who has been spinning since she was very young) demonstrated both her skills and those of David, who restored the wheels to full working order. 
One of our members brought in her own antique wheel, which has been duly measured and added to the database!

(photographs to follow)

Friday, 13 April 2012

Wednesday evening, 11th. April.

Ready and waiting...

Although the evening sky was very black to the west, it didn't rain.

Hard at work
Back to our Spring and Summer timetable, and the evenings are definitely much lighter!  We had a quiet meeting on Wednesday, spinning, sorting fleece and knitting. We are looking forward to our "extra" meeting this Saturday, when the Bryants are coming to talk about historic spinning wheels.